The astronomonsters’ favorite Christmas gift this year was their Glow-in-the-Dark Space puzzle. It’s a 2×3 feet floor puzzle with 100 pieces. The backside is a black-line drawing of the planets so kids can color it if they want. The colored image has glow-in-the-dark highlights. The pieces are sturdy, which is good, because my kids have been a bit rough with it and slide it across the wood floors to take it from one room to another. They’ve played with it every day since Christmas, and it has held up well.
We had a bit of a crisis Christmas morning when we assembled it. Having heard us say it was a glow-in-the-dark puzzle, Astronomonster #1 wanted it to make the room dark enough to see it. Our curtains aren’t darkening enough, so we told him he had to wait until the sun set and nighttime came. Maybe it was due to familiarity with the planetarium where we can have the sun set and rise whenever we want it, but he asked us to make the sun set. Sorry, kiddo. He couldn’t wait for dark, so we improvised.
Having emptied a salt container, we cut off one end and cut a small eye hole in the other end. We call it “The Darkoscope.” Hold it tight over a section of the puzzle you want to view, peek through the eye hole, and see the glow. You’ll need a smooth cut on the bottom so no light leaks through when you hold it against the puzzle. Oatmeal and cornmeal containers could also work–you’d want a wide tube in order to view enough glow to make it worth it. Decorate it however you wish.
After nighttime arrived, we enjoyed the glow as is. Then we tried experiments with flashlights. Aiming a flashlight at a spot for even a short while dramatically increases the glow. With small LED flashlights, the kids were highlighting rings, planets, and moons, and making bright “impact scars” on the planets. “Crash!”